Published 24th January 2019


Some people say that you are either born with confidence or you’re not. But speaking in a foreign language can make even the most naturally confident people shy. However, being successful in a foreign language requires confidence. You need to be confident enough to make mistakes, because it is by making mistakes that we learn. As teachers, part of our job is to help our students be the best they can be. This includes helping them be as confident as they can be by building up their confidence levels.

Five ways to boost your students’ confidence

  1. Praise them

This means congratulating them when they have done something well as well as acknowledging their hard work. Often when we teach we focus on the errors our students are making and we forget to draw attention to what they have done right. When you do error correction make sure you take note of any good language utilised by your learners and share those examples with them after you have looked at their errors.

  1. Find out their goals

Often confidence is driven by motivation. If a student is motivated to learn English, they will feel confident when they speak because they realise they need to speak in order to learn. Find out your students’ goals and relate their work to these whenever possible so they can be reminded of their ultimate goal.

  1. Let them teach

Nothing motivates better than seeing what you have learnt. Show your students how much they know by letting them act as teachers. This can be done in groups or by electing students to teach certain language points to their classmates – just be sure to choose language points they are confident with.

  1. Give them responsibility

Instead of spoon feeding our learners information, we need to give them some responsibility. We can do this by letting them decide what areas they need to work on – the present perfect, pronunciation, vocabulary of opinion – and giving them the materials they need. We can also use flipped learning to let them take the lead in their studying.

  1. Create an open environment

From the first lesson you have with your students, encourage them to ask questions or to raise any concerns they may have. If your students ask questions, you will not only have insight into their difficulties and areas of weakness but you will be one step closer to a learner-centred classroom. The more learner-centred your classroom, the more confident your students will be.

Confidence might be something some people are born with more of than others, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do a few simple things to help our students along.